CRADLING her tiny son’s head, the proud mum gazes tenderly at her little boy as Dad looks on with love.
It’s a scene most new parents take for granted but for Hannah Vaughan Jones and husband Lewis, it feels like a miracle — because newborn Sonny is the result of 15 ROUNDS of IVF.
And it has taken an agonising six years of heartbreak, frustration, loss and £80,000 — to reach this moment.
Hannah, a TV presenter on CNN, says: “We genuinely thought we might never be parents.
“So when they first placed Sonny on my chest, I bawled my eyes out. The tears just kept falling. Even covered in goo, he was perfect and the emotion was simply overwhelming.”
Lewis, also a newsreader, adds: “We both cried our eyes out. I felt such love but also relief.
“I thought: ‘There he is, we’ve actually done it’. It was like we’d been holding a breath all those years and could finally let it go.”
When the couple, both 38, from Twickenham, south-west London, began trying for a baby in 2013, they assumed the patter of tiny feet wouldn’t be far away.
Two years later, they were still waiting and agreed to try IVF. But more heartache was to follow when their only round on the NHS failed.
Hannah was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries and found to have a tilted, heart-shaped uterus that would make pregnancy difficult.
In early 2016, the couple signed up to several private clinics and began a series of 14 further IVF rounds — at a total cost of £80,000 — in their bid for a family.
Hannah says: “Besides being endlessly poked and prodded, I went through so much emotional pain — and felt such a failure.
“The wounds of the inevitable highs and lows will be forever printed in my mind.”
Lewis also found the process tough. He says: “Those first few rounds were hard. Nobody knew we were having IVF so we just carried this burden of crushed hope in silence.”
But the pair’s devotion to one another saw them through the worst. Lewis says: “We’re so much stronger and more certain about our relationship as a result of this journey.
“Trying to conceive, you live in this weird state of suspended animation. For years, we were neither carefree and out partying or busy with a young family instead.
“That sense of limbo can cause friction but we were lucky enough to get through it and thrive.”
Finally, in March 2019, something incredible happened. Just as Hannah and Lewis had agreed to give up on IVF and try donor eggs and sperm, the one frozen embryo they had left did the unexpected.
It had been written off as a dud, of such poor quality it wasn’t even PGS-tested — a technique to see whether embryos have any problems with their chromosomes.
But the embryo stunned doctors when it implanted successfully.
Lewis explains: “We had zero expectation of that last one working. We even had a clinic booked for the donor process. Then suddenly Hannah is pregnant . . . and stays pregnant.
“Just as we had made our peace with not having our own biological child, that very last embryo of our last IVF round works. It is simply amazing.”
Hannah adds: “I think that’s why we love people saying he looks like us. I dreamed about what he would look like and feel like in my arms for years but I couldn’t ever really picture what our blend would be.
“He has Lewis’ nose and hairline, and I think he’ll be tall like us as his limbs are already so long. Lewis’ mum says Sonny’s the spit of Lewis as a baby.
“And that reassurance he’s ours is like a balm — we both felt a funny need to hear someone say he’s a part of us and we can keep him. We still pick him up in awe thinking that somehow we made him and he’s perfect.”
But the start of family life hasn’t been plain sailing. Born by Caesarean at 38 weeks, Sonny’s healthy birth weight dropped off as he struggled to feed.
And at five days old, he was back in hospital. Hannah says: “It was just awful. There’s nothing worse than the thought you’re not nourishing your baby.
“I got very tearful — howling in fact — and Lewis had to hold me together. That fear of messing up has been the biggest surprise of motherhood so far.
“I waited for this amazing little lad for so long and now he’s here I constantly ask myself: ‘Am I good enough? Do I deserve him? Am I going to let him down?’ ”
Luckily, Sonny – full name Matheson Calon Tallett Vaughan Jones – has taken to feeding and is back at home with Mum and Dad. The couple are clearly a tight team. They pass Sonny back and forth so Hannah can feed or Lewis can change him.
So what’s been the best bit so far? She says: “That feeling of connection from breastfeeding has been really lovely. The first time he opened his eyes was just amazing, too.
“He looked at me with this really quizzical furrowed brow which he gets from me and my heart just burst. The first time we made it outside felt like a big achievement.
“Pushing Sonny in his pram, it dawned on us that we’re one of those young families we saw and longed to be for so long. How crazy is that!”
While Hannah undoubtedly offers a glimmer of hope to other women going through the gruelling IVF process, she is very aware of the pain it can bring.
She says: “My advice for any couple going through IVF is not to compare yourself with anyone else. Your pain, your experience, your journey is just as valid as the next person’s.
“I struggled so hard with that — and would feel so envious when I saw new mums. But everyone has different factors at play.
“You must also be prepared to draw a line in the sand. That doesn’t mean giving up. It might mean taking a different path.”
Lewis adds: “I would urge any would-be dad to talk to people about what they’re going through. Hannah and I didn’t for the first couple of IVF rounds and it felt like this huge burden was lifted when we finally opened up.”
So would they go through it all again? Hannah says: “I feel so lucky to have Sonny now and I can’t imagine going through the process again. Part of me thinks it would be greedy to even try. But who knows?
“Maybe we could try to give him a little brother or sister through adoption or donor conception.”
Lewis agrees: “Perhaps we’ll be parents again one day. But for now, we’re the luckiest people. Finally, with Sonny, we have the family we always dreamed of — and we’ll cherish every moment.”
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